Friday, March 28, 2014

MEET THE MILLERS . . . .and Spiritual Death

First Hand Reports of Applying a Gratitude Exercise

I told a group of people to repeat, "I am grateful to my Creator" five minutes each day for a month. Some of the results were:
* "At first I found it difficult to keep this up. This gave me a jolt. The Creator is giving me life each moment of each day and He gives me the air I breathe. Why is it so hard for me to express my gratitude? This self-rebuke gave me a strong feeling of motivation. I was committed to use the power of repeating messages to myself to build up this gratitude.
* "I realized that I would only be able to repeat this for five minutes at a time if I would sing it with a tune. So I would sing this five minutes each day. It became my favorite song.
* "The first day when I heard this, I found myself having to wait for something to start. I began to feel frustrated. Then I said to myself, ‘This is a perfect time to repeat, "I am grateful to my Creator" for five minutes.' It totally transformed the waiting into an uplifting experience. Throughout the month, I chose potentially frustrating moments to practice this. After a while, the stirrings of feelings of frustration became a trigger to begin my exercise."
* "Someone saw me smiling while I was waiting in line at my local supermarket. He asked me if anything special is going on in my life. "There are a lot of special things that I'm beginning to become more aware of," I replied.
* "By repeating, ‘I am grateful to my Creator,' I began to realize that everyone who is kind to me in any way was sent to me by my Creator. I increased my gratitude towards those people and I increased my gratitude to the Creator of it all."
Love Yehuda Lave
I think you will enjoy these pictures.  ?????

AK Miller's Front Yard

Consider the strange story of Alex and Imogene Miller of

East Orange, VT.  They eked out an existence on a small farm. 

Alex would scrounge rusty nails from burnt buildings to repair

his roof.  He drove a ratty VW Beetle, and when it died,

he found another even more ratty, and another...the rusting

carcasses littered his yard.  Alex died in 1993, and Imogene

died in 1996.  The local church took up a collection so they

could be buried in the churchyard, and the state began the

process of taking the farm for taxes.  That would have been

the end of a sad story, except.....

Forget the VW: a '28 Franklin ($4500US) and a

'23 HCS($14,500 US) lurk inside.  While preparing

the estate for auction, the sheriff discovered a cache

of bearer bonds taped to the back of a mirror. 

That triggered a comprehensive search of the house

and outbuildings.  The estate auction would eventually

be handled by Christies, and it would bring out collectors

from all over the world.

1913 Stutz Bearcat went for just $105,000US. 

Must have been the bad tire.  It seems that Alex

Miller was a Rutgers grad, son of a wealthy financier. 

He lived in Montclair, NJ, where he founded Miller's

Flying Service in 1930.  He operated a gyrocopter

(look it up, it's too much of a digression) for mail and

delivery service through the 30's.  But the Millers had a

secret, and they moved from Montclair when they needed

room for it.

Step behind the wheel of a 1916 Stutz Bearcat ($155,000 US). 

Choosing to live low profile, and paranoid about tax collectors,

Miller moved to the farm in VT, and took his collections with him.

  Most of his cash had been exchanged for gold and silver bars

and coins, which he buried in various locations around the farm.

  He carefully disassembled his gyrocopter, and stored it in an

old one-room schoolhouse on his property.  He then built a

couple of dozen sheds and barns out of scrap lumber and

recycled nails.  In the sheds he put his collection.

Have to remember to clean that '20 Bearcat out of the shed

($50,000 US).  Alex Miller had an obsession with cars. 

Not just any cars, but Stutz cars.  Blackhawks, Bearcats,

Super bearcats, DV16's and 32's.  He had been buying them

since the 1920's.  When Stutz went out of business,

he bought a huge pile of spare parts, which was also carefully

stored away in his sheds.

A Springfield Rolls Picadilly Roadster ($115,000 US), made in

Illinois.  Sometimes, he would stray, and buy other "special cars",

including Locomobiles, a Stanley, and a Springfield Rolls Royce.

  He never drove them.  He'd simply move them into his storage

sheds in the middle of the night, each car wrapped in burlap

to protect it from any prying eyes.  Over the years, the farm

appeared to grow more and more forlorn, even as the collection

was growing.

A snappy car: 1921 Stutz Bearcat ($58,000 US).  Occasionally he would sell some parts
to raise cash.
Rather than dipping into his cache, he would labor for hours making copies of the
original parts by hand.

Stutz factory spares. Cylinders and pistons from a brass era Stutz in
Collectors knew him as a sharp trader, who had good merchandise
but was prone to cheating.  His neighbors had no clue at all, they
thought Alex and Imogene were paupers, and often helped out
with charity.

Wheelbarrow blocks a '28 Stutz Blackhawk Boattail Speedster ($78,000 US).
The auction was a three day circus, billed as the "Opening of King Stutz Tomb". 
It attracted celebrity collectors, as well as thousands of curiosity seekers. 
The proceeds were in the millions, some items went for far more than their value
in the frenzy.  In the end, the IRS took a hefty chunk of the cash for back taxes,
which proves the old adage about the only two sure things in life...

A vanilla '31 SV16 Stutz Sedan ($10,000)

Bargain of the show: a '29  Stutz Blackhawk sedan for $7000 US

A beautiful Stutz DV32 Sedan ($27,500)

Anyone need a new Stutz engine? Still factory fresh.

A'23 HCS ($12,000 US) lurks in the darkness of the barn

A Lebaron dual-cowl Stutz from 1929 ($68,000US)

A '27 Stutz AA Sedan for $6500US

1925 Stutz Speedway Six ($9000 US)

T-Head engine in a 21 Bearcat

Build a '22 Stutz touring car from this pile of parts for just $10,000 US


Rabbi Ari Kahn

Tum’ah is a word that is not easily defined. While we use the word “impurity” to translate the concept of tum’ah, modern man has very little grasp of ritual purity and impurity. Although we share the dread caused by the most feared source of impurity – death – it is death itself we fear, and not the state of ritual impurity it causes.
Death is modern man’s ultimate fear. It is the ultimate defeat; it debilitates not only the victim, but also those left behind – loved ones, family and friends. And yet, in our experience, when death makes an appearance, the tum’ah that results is “healed” by a simple washing of the hands; a few cups of water and life goes on – at least in terms of tum’ah. In Temple times, however, a person who had come in contact with death could not enter the Temple; Tum’ah and the sanctity of the Temple are mutually exclusive concepts. For the same reason, all kohanim, whose lives were intimately intertwined with the Temple service, were commanded to avoid unnecessary contact with the dead. Even today, kohanim attend funerals only for their most immediate relatives, and actively avoid all contact with death other then when absolutely necessary.
In short, we have little difficulty understanding the concept of tum’ah that has death at its source. And yet, despite the tragedy of death, the permanent and irreversible damage and void that it creates and the dread of its cruel finality, there is another type of tum’ah that is far worse: the tum’ah of tsara’at. Our sages explain that the malady called tsara’at, commonly translated as leprosy, is not the physical skin malady with which we are familiar, but rather a physical expression of a spiritual illness.
At first glance, death – and the tum’ah it engenders – seems to us far more serious and severe than any skin lesion; in fact, tsara’at might even seem trivial compared to death. Nonetheless, when we measure and compare the tum’ah that results from each of these causes, the conclusion is inescapable: The tum’ah caused by leprosy eclipses that caused by contact with death. The verses themselves illustrate the disparity: A person who came in contact with death could not enter the Temple, but the leper was completely removed from society. While we might argue that the “quarantine” of the leper was nothing more than a preventative step to avoid contagion – a step that is unnecessary in the case of tum’ah caused by contact with death – this argument overlooks the nature of tum’ah. The malady in question is spiritual, not physical. The leper is placed in isolation because he or she suffers from a contagious condition that is spiritual, not physical.
Tradition associates leprosy with sins of speech, such as gossip, slander and character assassination. The person guilty of these sins is considered spiritually dangerous, and the results of these sins are considered far more destructive than contact with death.
The first instance of the misuse of speech was in the Garden of Eden, and it was perpetrated by the serpent. In attempting to bring about disharmony between Adam and Eve, the serpent serves as the prototype of the gossiper who sows hatred and jealousy through the artful use of words. With its slick message and scaly skin, the serpent has become the quintessential image of the misuse of speech – and of the skin lesions that result.
As a result of the serpent’s insidious words, mankind’s grasp of truth was confounded, confused; they were exiled from the Garden of Eden. After partaking of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – a tree we might more aptly call the “Tree of Death” – they were banished, exiled, distanced from the Garden and the intimacy with God they had once enjoyed, the source of life itself. As God had warned, death came into the world. And so, we begin to see that the circle is complete: The serpent, and all those who misuse the power of speech, create a spiritual wound in human society – a wound whose physical manifestation may be likened to the skin of the snake; in human beings, this condition is called tsara’at, and it results from the same sin committed by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Any person who behaves like the serpent must be banished, sent into temporary exile, to protect society from infection while allowing the sinner to be healed spiritually.
Slander, gossip and other serpent-like abuses of the gift of speech bring a type of spiritual death into the community, just as the serpent’s misuse of speech brought physical death into the world. In both cases, the tum’ah necessarily results in estrangement, exile – either from the Temple or from all of society. And though in both cases a type of death occurs, Parashat Tazria teaches us that spiritual death is by far the greater loss.

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